USA 1, RSA 0: A Striker Scores in South Africa

Well, it may have taken five extra months, but a Yankee striker–one born in 1992 mind you–finally found the netting in South Africa in 2010. Eat your heart out Sunil Gulati.

A motley crew gets it done.

If you’re a fan of the USMNT, it’s hard to not be a little giddy as the States mildly corrected it’s last game in South Africa with a 1-0 win over the Bafana, Bafana at Green Point Stadium in Cape Town on Wednesday night.

The first hero in this one is actually Bob Bradley.

Perhaps it was his roots as collegiate coach, perhaps it was merely just a bunch of eager-to-please youngsters happy to be there….either way the oft-maligned coach of the U.S. initiated a short camp and managed a group of single-digit cappers who bought into his philosophy (attention to defense) and, ultimately, outlasted the “A-” team from South Africa.

Nowhere, perhaps, was this more evident than watching Mix Diskerud (as TSG accurately predicted getting a run at winger instead of centrally) willing himself to play defense after his late-in-the-2nd-half entry.

Those who have watched Diskerud in Norway have seen two things beyond his offensive acumen. First, a league where defense is important but not paramount and two, a player who doesn’t always adhere to his defensive assignment. You can probably ask Thomas Rongen about that analysis as well.

But there was Diskerud, late in the game, fending off crosses, recovering when beaten, and in a specific moment, keenly focused on Brad Guzan to make sure his one-man wall on a worrisome free kick on the near flank was on mark and protecting his keeper.

Diskerud’s performance was just one of many….wait…can you believe it has taken TSG this long to single out Juan Agudelo for his oft-foot calm finish on a Mix pass?

From Agudelo’s goal to Lichaj’s defending through Guzan’s calm stewardship, the USS Bradley plowed through its final game in 2010 with it’s rosiest “B” team performance of the year.

There’s oh so much more to discuss so on to our customary review:

Awards-What We Looked At-Player Ratings

Awards

Play of the game: Diskerud-to-Agudelo-to-Mr. Crossbar-to-pay dirt.

Agudelo finishes…FINISHES…with a pristine chip for the game winner off a patient deke-and-pass from Diskerud.

Most Unheralded Play Of the Game: Eddie Gaven

There were many of these….but Eddie Gaven had one to illuminate.

As the U.S. fought against the run of play in the 60th minute decade, Gaven who was still suffering from getting fouled a few moments earlier composed himself to intercept a pass bound for a very open center of the U.S. defensive third. Gaven was tired, and still feeling effects, but made the defensive effort.

Player of the Game: Brad Guzan

…..with apologies to Eric Lichaj, Clarence Goodson, Juan Agudelo and Ale Bedoya.

Many could have earned this nod today, but consider this: Guzan was playing behind Lichaj for the 2nd time (on the national team), behind Ream for the 1st time and behind Goodson I believe for the 3rd time. Yet with all that “uncertainty,” and as the States faced pressure early and throughout the game, Guzan calmly managed his back four, stepped up when necessary and made big saves seem elementary.

Well earned for the captain on the day.

What We Looked At:

• Refusal To Boot

You know, this probably deserved a mention way before now. The single biggest team thing that I, well, appreciated from this team was the calmness on the ball under duress on defense. Countless times, Eric Lichaj and Tim Ream in particular, flat-out refused to choose boot the ball up the pitch or out the side.

Ream...steady on defense and offense....

Instead, they took an extra second, guarded their possession, and calmly found outlets.

Up the field Alejandro Bedoya and Eddie Gaven likewise did not give in to giving the ball away.

A sequence early in the 2nd half saw Lichaj wait and wait coming under pressure and outlet to Bedoya who had two men on him. Bedoya absorbed a hit, protected the ball, actually went down but in the process, split two defenders, nudging a pass ahead to a semi-streaking Teal Bunbury. That simple play was scintillating to this observer.

• Speaking of simple, thank you Mr. Martino.

Yesterday’s columnist issued this tweet near the end of the 1st half when Robbie Rogers did a little too much–again–and lifted a somewhat harmless ball into the South Africa’s box.

Martino’s words:

Many Yanks kept it simple on the day, Brian Carroll, Ale Bedoya…even Juan Agudelo’s first touch was a drop pass to support. Robbie Rogers and Robbie Findley were not two of these people and the evaluation of their day will be worse for it.

It was almost like the bigger ego the worse and more me-too performance today, starting with Rogers.

Let’s not dwell.

• About That Right Side

On multiple occasions, both Clarence Goodson (finally playing his natural right central back role) and Eric Lichaj galloped into the attack. Goodson early on put a move on a South African defender and earned a free kick. Lichaj slalomed through the opposition and merely lacked the final ball on what may have been a dangerous chance.

Regardless, on the right, the U.S. got ahead in the attack and got ahead with confidence.

Ratings

Bob Bradley: 9

Bradley took an oleo of “Happy-to-be-here’s” and selected another group of “Youngster-who-will-listen” and coaxed some cohesion of out of a team in record time. The team bought into defensive responsibility, weathered pressure, and finally valued and put-away that final ball.

Kudos, Bob.

Ain't no swiss cheese on Guz...

G: Brad Guzan: 9

There are many styles in which to get a job done. Under Tim Howard, the common theme struck in the media was, “It’s necessary to scream, yell and have conflict on the field to solve problems” and that style works for Howard and company.

The great goalkeeper and commentator Shaka Hislop differs in his philosophy saying that a keeper egregiously pointing out errors shows the opponent where to attack and who is weak. No one style is the ultimate.

Guzan was decidedly calm and authoritative in the back despite having virtually no lead-up repititions at Aston Villa. He quietly pointed out issues and was effusive with praise and, in a moment that many media folks will miss, made it a point to verbally scold a South African defender that arrived to late on a cross and just avoided taking him out. The scolding made this writer in San Francisco think, “Man, if I ever play against Brad Guzan and it’s a 50-50 ball, he can have it.”

Well played Mr. Guzan.

LB: Jonathan Bornstein: 6

Dr. Yellow Card and Mr. Messi’s Foil was at it again today. You crave consistency with Bornstein and you’re just never going to get it not. Note that Jonathan Spector was tried at leftback for the first time in over two years by Bob Bradley, who favors natural footed players at their rightful positions out wide.

Clarence Goodson: 7.5

No real reason why Goodson doesn’t get considered for the first team in the next big USMNT game. Didn’t have that one nagging mistake per game that he usually does either.

Tim Ream: 7

Had to deal with a little Bornstein with-his-head-cut-off on the left. Got beat a few times to the endline. Showed the promise that is already evident in club ball.

Yes, we're a little much with the praise...

Eric Lichaj: 7.5

With all due respect to Frank Thomas, can we label Lichaj “The Big Nasty.”

Lichaj played with bite. His early slide-in on Tshabalala was a message that someone like a John Terry would send, effectively stating, “You may have beat me a few times as I’m get my sea legs, but it’s going to be a long day for you on my side.”

This writer….loved it. It was…nasty. All through the game, Lichaj played within the rules to exert his physical nature on his opponent, to punish them. You know what else made me gush? 71st minute, Lichaj against Tshabalala I believe, as the South African makes a move with his left foot to the corner.

We all agree ‘Shaba is quick right? Well Lichaj pirouetted–away from the play–to recover and still stood up the left winger and negate the threat of a cross. Stunning.

On offense the Villa reserve back showed patience, a burst and a little Ricky Bobby shake-n-bake.

Eric Lichaj, I hereby christen you Steve Cherundolo’s heir…already apparent. But watch those fouls.

Robbie Rogers: 4.5

Arguably one of the most skilled players on the ball out there on Wednesday, we mentioned Martino’s review of Rogers earlier.

He just doesn’t seem to get it yet. One day it may click, but as the seasons wear on, it’s looking less likely.

Brian Carroll-Logan Pause: 6*

How can you not rate these guys together? Both MLS stalwarts, still in game shape, were asked by Bob Bradley to play consistently for 90+ minutes and be as error-free as possible. There were hiccups, there were mistakes. But they didn’t crumble. Seems to me they hit their ceiling on their ability level and did the job Bob asked them to.

Ale Bedoya: 7.5

The TSG-dubbed Ambassador to Brazil brought it this game, pushing the issue on the right flank while still playing within himself. Take a look if you want when Bedoya gets subbed for Mix at the 80th minute or so. He walks off with a gait that says, “I did my job.” Bob Bradley affirms with a hand slap and nod.

Eddie Gaven: 6.5

Sneaky, a sneaky 90+ minutes of quality. Nothing spectacular, but I’m really looking forward to seeing his band play tonight at the Peach Pit.

Robbie Findley: 5

Cast in the wrong role today, Findley battled to the best of his ability up against South Africa’s defensive trees. It’s becoming still clear though, that ability is limited to breakaway speed and dogged pursuit and that’s about it.

Reserves:

Teal Bunbury: 6

Oddly seemed to thrive more as a single striker, got a little lost when the States moved to two up front.

Out of all the impressive offensive moves we saw Wednesday, Bunbury’s thigh-to-open-his-left-foot might have been the best. Poor shot nonwithstanding. There’s something here though.

Juan Agudelo: 7

….and now you eat your heart out Landon Donovan. At 17, Agudelo is the youngest American to score in international senior team play ever. Wow.

And you know what, Agudelo’s breadth of game impressed me more.

On his first touch, Agudelo was in the position of having a low probility of success if he attacked.

An attack was possible, yet Agudelo calmly dropped the ball off.

In the 89th minute, Agudelo–as a striker should–took the ball to the corner and displayed a swagger that said, “I can beat you if I want to, but I keeping the ball in the corner like I was told.” The ball nudged out of bounds, but Juan nochalantly flipped the ball back both wasting time and as if to say, “I’m done with you guys” to the two South African defenders that were there.

Who loved it? Any Agudelo jerseys left at World Soccer Shop?

Jonathan Spector: 5

Specs needs to get back to work...

Dear “New” Jonathan Spector, please summon the “Old” Jonathan Spector.

It’s not “growing pains” for Spector, it’s specifically a complete lack of confidence brought on by only playing mop-up minutes at West Ham.

Oh…and it may have taken me Spec’s entire USMNT tenure, but I finally figured out who he looks like: Kirk Cameron.

Had a nice all-or-nothing tackle on Pienaar in the box….you still got something Specs. Chin up.

Mix Diskerud: 7

Tragically forgot this rating the first time I published this. How cruel? My sentiments on Mix? Big bag of tricks, scratched the surface….just dropped two cliches on you because I’m tired.

As I wrote below, if the Sweatster calls in Kljestan without giving Mix sufficient burn, I might cry.

Gale Agbossumunde-Nat Borchers:

N/A, not enough observations, but great hair from the ‘Boss. Watch out Stu Holden.

…….

A good and entertaining match for Yanks’ fans. Our one note on South Africa? David Somma, you forgot to score today and you really belong on Italy not South Africa…and definitely not the States.

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65 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by kaya on 2010/11/17 at 4:50 PM

    Pausing at “Refusal To Boot” to say: YES YES YES.
    Gawd I loved this. I mean, there were miscues and like I commented in the earlier post, Spector went beyond the call of duty to make as many errant passes as one can get away with and keep a clean sheet, but I was dumbstruck by the little turns and twists our backline made to give themselves space to make thought-out passes.

    Reply

  2. Posted by JasonPrice on 2010/11/17 at 5:00 PM

    Excellent report. And almost in complete agreement. As for the 9 on Guzan… I haven’t seen the second half, but if SA had capitalized when he lost that very average ball sent into the box in the first have, it’s a very very different story. These are the mistakes you can’t make, and the reason he probably deserves a 7. The Kirk Cameron pic is cruel, poor poor Jonathan Spector. I like the joint rating, but I preferred Pause on the day, and he did provide that muscle. Gaven was a really pleasant surprise, he really played with purpose. That’s exactly the kind of guy you want for Gold Cup and qualification.

    Reply

  3. Posted by kaya on 2010/11/17 at 5:01 PM

    No honorable mentions for the SJ Quakes for knocking the Red Bulls out to make Ream and Agudelo available?? Make up call since TSG kinda jipped coverage of the Colorado/SJ side of the conference finals and all…? =)

    Reply

  4. Posted by Shane on 2010/11/17 at 5:02 PM

    I thought collectivly as a team we looked better in the first half.. Running a 4-2-3-1..
    - Passing and possesion was much better

    Once Bunbury and Juan came in and we switched to a 4-4-2 we looked amature to be honest..
    - Until Diskerud (who you forgot to rate) came in and injected fresh legs and creativity in the midfield..

    Couple things on the ratings..
    - Eddie Gaven possibly the best field player today 7.5 easy for me.
    - Robbie Rogers derved a higher rating (Not Much) but played well minus a few giveaways.

    Spector needs to find himself before he gets another cap..
    Lichaj is the future.. Respect
    Ream *see Lichaj*
    Carrol is a much better Def. Mid than Rico Clark.. (Not saying much)
    Bedoya is the new Stu Holden in the U.S. 23 (Stu being starting XI)

    Reply

    • Posted by Jake on 2010/11/17 at 5:53 PM

      I liked Eddie’s performance too. He gets my Man of the Match vote.

      Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2010/11/17 at 6:26 PM

      We were a 4-4-2 in the first half too. Agudelo played a little higher up the pitch than Gaven did (when he was a supporting striker.) Possession was just as poor, if not more poor. Rogers was really, really bad–maybe the worst player on the pitch after Findley. I’m surprised this hasn’t gotten more comment, but it wasn’t just his poor offensive play, but he had at least two awful giveaways in the middle third that started breakaways for South Africa. If that was Robbie Findley, USMNT fans might have been inspired to arson. Fortunately, we’re pretty deep at wings so we don’t need to see Rogers again (unlike Mssrs. Bornstein and (lesserly) Spector and Findley.)

      Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/11/17 at 6:35 PM

        I have to concur on Rogers.

        It’s almost like he’s not altogether focused…especially on defense. He’ll make a play and then take one off.

        On offense, he’s got classic guy syndrome. He can’t multitask. It’s either “Attack: Dribble, beat defender (or lose ball), and keep going and going until too much resistance or he had to give up the ball” or “Attack (which is good) and hit too much resistance and pass not as weapon or means of creating opportunity, but because there’s no further he can go.”

        He’s got SO much potential though. Big frame, speedy, moves, a killer shot.

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  5. Posted by John on 2010/11/17 at 5:12 PM

    Not knowing how anything will turn out in careers we could be looking at a midfield stable for the next world cup that includes….

    Edu, Holden, Dempsey, Donovan, Jones, Diskerud, Bedoya,

    Good Grief.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/11/17 at 5:21 PM

      Not raining on today’s positivity.

      That’s a lot of talent, but it’s still missing that Champion’s League semi-finalist starter.

      Now back to positivity. Diskerud just showed he can play a number of different ways in, what, about 10 minutes. Possess the ball, slot a pass, make a move.

      If Bradley ever calls Kljestan in again I might cry.

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      • Posted by Eric on 2010/11/17 at 5:37 PM

        Europa League finalist player doesn’t quite match up to a champion’s league semi-finalist player huh?

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        • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/11/17 at 5:39 PM

          Not quite….plus Demps played forward in that one..that’s my out. :>

          Thanks for the note on Mix.

          Reply

        • Posted by Isaac on 2010/11/17 at 6:49 PM

          That’s a little bit of a cheap shot, you know? Champions League semi-finalist? That just seems to be sort of a given that nobody really wants to talk about and is not something anybody can REALLY affect. I geuss I get what you’re saying kind of.

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      • We can always bring Beasley along for that “veteran” presence on the bench and discounts on diamond jewelry for his team mates.

        Reply

    • Posted by Tux on 2010/11/17 at 5:25 PM

      I’m giddy at the thought of this, and after today we may not be lacking up top either. Hallejauh, praise McBride, we’ve got a striker!

      Reply

      • It looks like we might have two. Bunbury wasn’t exactly setting the stage on fire, but he looks to possess the same Speed = Good skillset as Findley, and then some. His physicality was nice to see in the early minutes of the second half.

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      • Posted by MJ on 2010/11/18 at 12:53 PM

        Can I please nominate “Praise McBride” as the official prayerful interjection of the USMNT?

        Reply

        • I second that. I would’ve said Amen! but that’s blasphemous to the new Praise McBride.

          Possibly a HOF candidate there.

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    • Posted by Kevin on 2010/11/18 at 9:32 PM

      So you rate edu better than bradley? I cant say i agree with that. He catches a lot or grief for being the coaches son and never not being played but hes not that bad. I used to think the same thing and i see where you’re coming from but over the last couple years we have seen so much improvement from him imagine what we could have by 2014. Did you all forget that he was 22 during the world cup was playing defensive midfield and still scored more goals than all or our strikers combined. All right thats a pretty stupid stat but still it is impressive.

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  6. Posted by Paul on 2010/11/17 at 5:35 PM

    I think some of the “refusal to boot” wore off in the second half, when Spector started booting the ball to everyone in a yellow kit. Spector and Jonny B. Bad are looking to get their places on the bench ripped from them by these youngesters.

    As a Bradley “hater,” let me be the first to give Bob props for an encouraging performance today–not an outstanding victory, as our ESPN commentators led us to believe, but a sound, solid win for a green team. Bob is finding that the younger talent–the talent that was too green to find playing/starting time for the most recent cup run, or got time on the 2009 Gold Cup team (Lichaj, Ream, ect.)–are perhaps more talented or hungry than Rogers, Kleistan, and Bornstein.

    As for the midfield, John missed a guy who is quickly losing out to other players–Paco Torres. He has gotten back to his starting role, but how is Bob going to Torres into that mix, which includes Bradley. I still can’t shake the feeling that Bob won’t be able to intermix all this talent into the best 11, but his ability to bring new players in cannnot be underestimated. Bradley’s second term is starting well enough (Brazil is merely a bad nightmare).

    Reply

    • Posted by John on 2010/11/17 at 5:46 PM

      While I left Bradley off the list accidentally, I left Torres off the list intentionally. Not because I don’t rate his talent but it just seems that Bradley doesn’t.

      Also it would seem that if you play a 4 – 2 – 3 – 1

      with the 2 – 3 being (in my mind)

      Edu – Bradley

      (or)

      Jones – Bradley

      and

      Holden – Donovan – Dempsey

      (or)

      Holden – Donovan – Bedoya

      (or)

      Dempsey – Holden – Donovan

      (or)

      Holden – Donovan – Diskerud

      I just don’t see where Torres fits into this. I love his skills, but the one place we have a wealth is in the mids and unless he is replacing Edu or Bradley I don’t see him replacing Holden (who only is on his way up) or Donovan/Demspey (because I really think only one of them is making the world cup). Basically I just can’t quite see where he is going to be.

      Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2010/11/17 at 6:32 PM

        I think the problem with Torres is that–as he’s admitted–he has trouble keeping up with the speed of the international game. Combined with the trouble he’s had in the apertura getting PT, and it’s very explicable why Bradley doesn’t play Torres very much.

        And, to be honest, why should Bradley? Jones, Edu, Holden and Mike Bradley are all just as good at passing as Torres is, as well as being more defensively responsible. Torres isn’t, as commonly assumed, a #10 type of guy, so that’s out too. Torres needs to step up his game.

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        • Torres does need to step up his game a few notches, especially in the speed category. But saying that Jones, Edu, and Baby Sweats can pass just as well as Torres is shocking. If you watch the Costa Rica qualifier again you’ll notice that Torres was the one jump starting the attack while the Ticos sat back. In the Poland and Columbia friendlies, Jermaine Jones found himself with some time on the ball and continually dribbled into pressure and made bad decisions. Edu’s passing isn’t a weak spot necessarilly, for a DM, but often his passes are short, here-you-take-it-and-make-something-happen types.

          I hope Bob doesn’t freeze Torres out because he can still be a serviceable option against some of the lesser opponents who will “Park the bus” against us, as well as provide a spark off the bench when the rest of the midfield have run out of ideas.

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        • Posted by kaya on 2010/11/18 at 1:42 AM

          Have to agree with Nick on the passing thing. I haven’t followed Paco’s game recently, but I always lamented sweatpants’ bald faced preference for physicality above all else…
          The best I’ve seen from Torres matches the promise of what I saw in today’s match better than the best of what I’ve seen from Bradley/Edu/Clark(cough).
          I guess you gotta have muscle to deliver the package, so I’d pick Jones over the other 3 and match him with Holden/Benny/Torres types as the money man.

          Reply

        • Posted by dth on 2010/11/18 at 10:36 AM

          Bradley is an extremely underrated passer. Check out the Gladbach-Koln derby from last week: Bradley played three through balls to create chances; one of which resulted in a wrongly disallowed goal. If Bradley were Michael Thomas, USMNT fans would be going crazy; if Bradley with Michael Gonzalez, USMNT would orgasm. But he’s not: he’s Michael Bradley and his sometimes-superb passing gets underrated.

          It’s also hard to argue Bradley hasn’t given Torres a chance. He gave Torres his first start for the USMNT in a World Cup game, for crying out loud.

          Reply

        • If Bradley is an underrated passer it’s because he hasn’t shown it for the USMNT in a while. In the 2007 Gold Cup Bradley looked very smart and tidy on the ball; always knowing where to go with the ball before he got it. He hasn’t shown that same ability lately. But he has never been that guy on the USMNT to hit the home-run through ball, and I don’t catch enough Bo’Munchen games to comment on those.

          I’m not saying Bobbo hasn’t given Torres a chance, he has gotten a few games. But one could argue that those chances weren’t the most ideal. Getting the start against Slovenia is an honor that no player in their right mind would turn down, but as discussed on this site he should’ve been brought on at the half instead. My concern is that Coach Sweats will give up on Torres too soon, he add a different style of play that no one else in the US Player Pool does at this point in time. If Torres never grows into the International Game, then so be it, but hopefully he will so Sweats has some very difficult decisions in the future.

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  7. Posted by Eric on 2010/11/17 at 5:35 PM

    Couple of thoughts:

    1. It was Bunbury who got fouled and split the two defenders to play a ball into the path of a streaking Bedoya, not the other way around as you have it.

    2. I kind of agree with some things that I’ve seen that Lichaj definitely has some Frankie in him. He seems to get forward quite well, but lacks that final ball (which Spector, when confident, had become quite adapt at playing). He also has a tendency to foul a little too much for my taste. Fouling becomes a problem against dangerous teams who can punish you on a set piece better than the likes of South Africa.

    3. Mix (Agreed, you forgot to rate him) looks like he’s grown quite a bit since the U20 days. He certainly looks composed on the ball but it seems like he likes to drift centrally a bit. Someone correct me if they disagree with that though. Still, I have to wonder how effective he’d be sometimes in the US system with that tendency to drift central.

    4. I love the look of Ream as a left center back and Lichaj at right back but I’m not sure how quickly we’ll see them enter the line-up with the first team. Bocanegra is still playing at a high level and Bradley still seems willing to give Gooch chances, not to mention Goodson has done nothing to lose his place and still has experience. At right back, I’d have to rate Lichaj as our second choice behind Cherundolo still (based on Spector’s form right now). Steve’s experience is still too valuable to turn aside even though Lichaj definitely has the track for the position in the near future.

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2010/11/17 at 6:34 PM

      Re: point 3: he’ll fit right in with a tendency to drift central. There’s a reason that Holden and Bedoya, who both play centrally for their clubs, often play wide for Bradley. (Demps and Donovan also like to drift centrally as well.) I’m sure Bradley will be fine with Mix going central, though I wish he–like Holden–would be given a shot at a more creative central midfield spot.

      Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/11/17 at 6:39 PM

        I’d like to–again, my broken record–try Holden outside. He just–now that he plays centrally–doesn’t have that drive around the corner or down the line to cross it.

        Mix on the other hand, has some moves and I’ve watched him come from wide outside to make plays, I like him in Holden’s tucked-in middie role with an overlapping Lichaj.

        Reply

        • Holden never really had the drive to get up the flank to the endline and around the defender. Can you remember a time when he’s done that? His killer crosses are generally played around the fullback, he doesn’t try to beat them 1 v 1. He’s always been more of the Beckham-type, stand and deliver guy when he plays wide right.

          Reply

      • Is it just me, or does Mix’s desire to be creative on the ball, devil-may-care attitude from his U20 days, and his inverted winger play remind you of the way Dempsey plays the game, especially in a US uniform?

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  8. Posted by . on 2010/11/17 at 6:03 PM

    Methinks Spector’s playing days for the NT are over unless he can work his “versatility” and boot Bornstein out of LB as his RB position seems to be very well filled by Lichaj.

    Reply

  9. Posted by phlub on 2010/11/17 at 6:21 PM

    Hard to see on my ATDHE.net feed, but all those give-away’s in the midfield in the first half seemed pretty shared between Pause, Carroll, and Rogers. I know Rogers got called out specifically once or twice by Harkes. This came as a result of the defenders deciding to clear with through balls and short passes and not long balls. (which I’m not against but…) More pressure then sat on these USMNT newbie holding mid-fielders. I think Pause and Carroll did a great job defensively though. And I think Rogers is and was strongest on the offensive side of the pitch. He had good moments on the line, one-on-one, and crossing and shooting. He’s got great offensive tools, but maybe struggles under pressure in a mid-field transition as that is more the role for a holding/distributing midfielder.

    Rogers should be attacking. He deserves slightly a better grade… just saying.

    Goodson was a leader on the pitch. Talking, confronting, organizing, and cheering for his teammates. I could see him taking the arm band in a few years. It was comforting to see.

    Excited about Mix, Ream, Lichaj as well.

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2010/11/17 at 6:37 PM

      Rogers’ grade was fine. He was truly, truly awful. Besides the giveaways starting breakaways for South Africa, he was pretty poor on offense too. Pretty useless, and unlike, say, the much-maligned Brek Shea debut, it’s not like he plays very well for his club either.

      Reply

      • Posted by phlub on 2010/11/18 at 8:22 AM

        Simply put… Rogers created chances… Multiple chances. Findley did not. Therefore the grades aren’t adequate. Rogers: 6, Findley 4.5. A lot of the US mid’s gave the ball up. Bedoya and Gaven maybe the exception. And Rogers improved on that aspect as the game moved on.

        All I’m saying is that with Rogers’skill and his up and somewhat down performance yesterday, he is deserving to be a consistent member of the squad (be it off the bench even).

        Reply

        • Posted by dth on 2010/11/18 at 10:31 AM

          Rogers created chances…for the other team. He didn’t create as much as a half-chance for the good guys. More to the larger point, I’m not sure why you want him on the team. Let’s look at the wing options (not necessarily in exact order, counting versatile players who can play in multiple positions): Dempsey, Donovan, Holden, Bedoya, Feilhaber, Agudelo…Shea and Rogers. People gave a lot of crap to Shea for his debut but in truth Rogers’s play was far worse than Shea’s, and Shea is much younger and more aggressive. I’d rather see Shea than Rogers again. That makes Rogers 8th on the depth chart. That’s not particularly interesting to me, and Rogers is 23 and doesn’t look any better than he did at 20.

          If Rogers wants to earn a spot on the USMNT, he has to get and hold a spot in MLS at least. Not an accident that Rogers saw the bench for an extended period on a not-particularly-deep Columbus Crew team.

          Reply

        • Posted by dth on 2010/11/18 at 11:08 AM

          Oh yeah, forgot Diskerud in my winger depth chart list. Make Rogers 9th. His bad performance isn’t terribly consequential for that reason, but it was an awful performance nonetheless.

          Reply

        • Posted by phlub on 2010/11/18 at 11:44 PM

          1st half highlights from the official USMNT video… BOTH offensive highlights are Rogers. So you’re just flat out wrong as far as ‘half a chance’.

          His play in the ’09 Gold Cup was outstanding, as well as most of his Crew career.

          He’s a PURE left winger unlike most of the other names you mentioned. So if Bradley sees the need for it, I for one am glad he’s there. I see him as good as Beasley ’02-
          ’06. I know you refuse to see that.

          Reply

          • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/11/18 at 11:55 PM

            I’m sorry, but two highlights on the USMNT video does not qualify Rogers as “good”…I know that’s not what you were trying to say.

            The problem with Rogers is that he doesn’t convert on the USMNT at all.

            It’s okay to be 1 for 10 on chances if that one chance results in a goal, however, when you overdribble and try to do too much it stagnates the offense. Take a look at Xavi…arguably one of the best players in the World.. His best skill…he knows when to risk possession loss on a chance and when not to.

            For Rogers, if he could learn to do just a little of this he would be much more effective…and perhaps the States best true left winger.

            Reply

  10. Posted by HMMMM on 2010/11/17 at 7:29 PM

    I am really confused with all the Rogers hating going on. I don’t think he was MOTM but I also don’t think he was the “flop of the match”. RR was one of the few bright spots we had offensively in the first half. He got loose a couple of times on the left wing and was involved in two of the best attacks that we had in the first half. I thought RR played himself a decent game and I certainly didn’t think he was “truly awful”

    Reply

    • Posted by Gino on 2010/11/17 at 9:11 PM

      Didn’t get to see the first half but feel compelled to defend Rogers as well. Granted, he does have a tendency to go full bore until he’s out of options. Yet lots of people complain about a lack of creativity or offensive spark shown by the Nats. Well, Rogers typically pushes forward because that’s his strength and that’s probably why he was in the starting lineup. I think Bob wanted him in there to keep South Africa from playing too high defensively and to reduce pressure on our mostly inexperienced defenders. There’s a fine line between having a good defensive performance (like today) and bunkering in.

      Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2010/11/18 at 8:29 AM

        No, Rogers was awful.

        Rogers gave the ball away twice in the middle third of the field that led to South African breakaways in a way that had nothing to do with creativity or lack thereof.

        Rogers’ play in the final third was also very tentative; when he did let loose it was very wayward.

        If you want to see creative play balanced by responsibility, Bedoya, Diskerud and to a lesser extent Gaven were your guys.

        Reply

  11. Best quote of the night award goes to Jaun Agudelo in his post-match interview with Jeremy Schaap:

    “…I made a run into the box, because that’s where goals come from…”

    Reply

  12. Posted by Mferrante on 2010/11/17 at 10:22 PM

    Ramdom question…. What is the deal with Le Toux? Is he eligible to play for the US now? Ive read some places yes, and some places no, does anyone have a definate answer?

    Reply

  13. Posted by mbw on 2010/11/17 at 11:40 PM

    (1) So glad you gave props to Bradley. I think we allow the fact that he’s not a great tactician obscure the fact that he’s a pretty good national team manager.

    (2) This can’t possibly be only the second time Lichaj has played in front of Guzan, can it?

    (3) Poor Jonathan Spector!

    (4) What’s Guzan’s future? It must be obvious to some European club that this is a first-string goalkeeper, no?

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/11/17 at 11:48 PM

      Thanks for the comment. Qualified Guzan-Lichaj as part of national team.

      Reply

    • Posted by Anatoly M on 2010/11/18 at 6:35 AM

      Bob Bradley is very good on this level. Reading this (EXCELLENT!!!) site and others, the unsatisfaction with BB comes out when we play for higher stakes. After the Cup what most reasonable posters wanted is somebody to bring us to the “next level”.

      I am not sure Jürgen Klinsmann was the answer. I’d prefer somebody the level of Hiddink or Lippy (they were available at the time range around the Cup. Hiddink signed in with Turkey before the Cup, but we could’ve silently approached him; and Marcello Lippi despite losing this time with Italy is one of the better Masters out there).

      I am giddy with excitement as anybody. But another part of my brain recognizes that SA is not a powerhouse. That’s why BB had freedom to experiment. It was not obvious that he would, and I am very happy that he did. But there were opportunities over the years that he did not take.

      My personal gripe with Bob Bradley is for him not using the player when he is HOT, and the opposite – keeping loyalty to another player when he is past overdue.

      I am absolutely sold on Lichaj – love the guy. He never surrendered the ground, and 9 times out of 10 SA guys had to find another way around.

      All those rare occasions that I can see Guzan playing I get amazed that he is not take away from Villa’s 2nd role. He is well ready for the bigger challenge.

      Reply

      • Posted by dth on 2010/11/18 at 8:24 AM

        Hiddink signed with Turkey before the World Cup began; he’s out. Lippi is incredibly old and it’s not as if someone else has rushed to sign him up. More importantly, the salary demands of these guys would be too high for the USSF’s strained finances–the federation lost money last year and has a very low turnover. It lost the money because it’s investing in the USSDA, an initiative that’s far more important than who the national team coach happens to be at any given moment.

        Reply

        • Posted by Anatoly M on 2010/11/18 at 8:43 AM

          Marcello Lippi is only 62. He was born in 1948. He won the Cup in 2006 but 2010 can’t be called anything else but fiasco. btw, for those who does not know: he did not continue straight after 2006, but was called back after Roberto Donadoni’s own fiasco in 2008. Lippi announced retirement after 2010 cup that he is calling back now, after he had a chanse to cool off.

          Hiddink was grabbed by Turkey before his contract with Russia expired. Which shows that courting him earlier with good money could have worked for us too.

          Now, I agree with you about the money. What these guys ask is very high. But when we are finally going to be ready for the next step, we will need top manager as well.

          What Hiddink did for improvement of South Korean soccer was worth every penny. It’s different with Russia, but with Russia everything is different.

          Reply

        • Posted by dth on 2010/11/18 at 10:25 AM

          Turkey was courting Hiddink before the World Cup began because they didn’t make the World Cup. It would be the poorest of poor form to court with the next manager before the event you’re judging the current one on has even started.

          As to Lippi: no one rushed to hire Lippi after he retired from Italy the first or second times. I think this is an accurate demonstration as to his perceived worth. Not to mention I suspect he doesn’t speak English–he’s never managed a team outside of Italy–and his demonstrated incompetence at managing Italy in 2010. Bradley is a much better option than Lippi.

          Reply

  14. Posted by Alex on 2010/11/18 at 4:33 AM

    Since this wasn´t an official FIFA date, technically this do nothing for our hopes of getting the guys with dual citizenship? I can just see our young Agudelo wanting to play for Colombia.

    If its an official date, that player must always play for that team?
    If its unofficial, does he have to wait a certain amount of time to play for another country?
    btw, is Jermaine Jones now a Yank for good because of the October friendly?

    someone clear this up for me please

    Reply

    • It was an official FIFA Date, thus there were tons of friendlies being playerd all over the world.

      However, it was not a FIFA “A” Competition (or whatever they’re calling it) like the World Cup, WC Qualifying, European Championships, Copa America, Gold Cup (I hope), etc.. This means that Agudelo, Agbossoumonde, Lichaj, Bunbury, and Mix can all switch allegiences if they go through all the FIFA paperwork and hoopla that Jermaine Jones did to become part of the US.

      Jones is now and forever a part of the US player pool.

      Where it gets dicey is the Camp Cupcake fiendlies that we play against Scandinavian “B” teams. Since these don’t fall on FIFA dates, FIFA sometimes won’t (hasn’t in the past though I need to do more research on this) recognize them as a true “A squad” friendly. Meaning that if Agudelo had played in a January friendly that FIFA didn’t recognize he could hop a plane and play for Columbia the next day without the paperwork.

      In the end, last night’s appearance cap-ties those players in the sense that they cannot play for another nation unless they fill out all of the FIFA Change of Nationality paperwork. It won’t be until they get some PT at the Gold Cup or in WCQ that they are ours for good.

      Reply

  15. Posted by Isaac on 2010/11/18 at 6:45 AM

    The two Robbie’s not only didn’t play well, but they didn’t do the job the USA needed tactically.

    Robbie Findley may not be your conventional lone striker, but he needed to make darting runs from the channels between defenders so he could latch on to through balls or direct balls over the top. Instead, he was caught deep way too many times and left the USA without a focal point for their attacks.

    Robbie Rogers, on the other hand, felt the need to come inside and create, and seems to do it quite often. He is much better when he paints his cleats white, gets down the line and uses his pace, skill, crossing and two-footedness to give the USA service. One of the few times he did Bedoya got a chance in the air.

    Bedoya came inside from the right to make a square in the midfield that was able to pass the ball well. A lot like how Iniesta did so for Spain. The issue was that with Robbie Rogers coming inside and Robbie Findley coming deep a lot, the USA was left without an out ball and Findley and Rogers lost the ball whenever any combination of Bedoya, Gaven, Pause and Carrol combined and gave it to them. They clogged the center. too much and left the USA without an out ball

    Reply

    • Posted by Anatoly M on 2010/11/18 at 9:01 AM

      The two Jonathans (Bornstein and Spector) did not perform any better.

      A curse?

      Reply

      • Posted by Isaac on 2010/11/18 at 1:41 PM

        Jonathan Spector wasn’t good but Jonathan Bornstein didn’t really do anything wrong if you ask me. Maybe it’s because South Africa looked to channel their wide attacks through Tshabalala and, therefore, were going at Lichaj, but Bornstein didn’t make any glaring mistakes that I saw. You would think after Lichaj constantly stopping the South African attacks down that flank, they would have tried something else and they did in fact create a chance by having Shabalala switch sides which Guzan saved, but other than that, not much of note happened on Bornstein’s side. I would have liked to have seen him get involved more in the attack, but he did fine to me.

        Reply

        • Posted by dth on 2010/11/18 at 2:14 PM

          Bornstein was fine in defense; if he played as well as he did in defense every game we’d basically be fine at LB. He was fairly wasteful moving forward, but not really in an egregious/deleterious way, so his performance clearly could’ve been much better. But compared to the standard we’re used to from USMNT left backs, Bornstein was very good.

          Reply

  16. Posted by Crow on 2010/11/18 at 8:30 AM

    I have a few observations on the game that I wanted to share. First of all, I agree that Eric Lichaj’s nastiness and agressiveness (while playing smart) is very welcome. It is uncommon to see that kind of confidence from an American player. I don’t know if itt comes from the fact that he “PLIES HIS TRADE” in Europe, or if that is just his playing style/personality.

    It was nice to see Juan Agudelo “BURST ONTO THE SCENE” but hopefully this newfound fame and attention doesn’t turn out to be a “POISONED CHALICE” for him (see Martin Rogers article from today- http://sports.yahoo.com/soccer/news;_ylt=Ao6GKkk2MfH12fjzUlMZNmQmw7YF?slug=ro-agudelo111710)

    ‘Boss is a “BEAST”. Just saying. I think Gooch would even obey the Boss.

    In the dying minutes of the game, I was nervous as Mix, Lichaj, Guzan, Boss and the others were holding on to their 1-0 lead, but then I realized it could have been worse….. because we all know that a “TWO GOAL LEAD IS THE MOST DANGEROUS LEAD IN SOCCER”!!! Thank goodness we were only leading 1-0.

    If Qatar is allowed to bribe FIFA into allowing the World Cup to take place there in 2022, is there anyway Bob B can bribe FIFA into allowing him to have a “TRANSFER WAR CHEST” for the National Team. Maybe some of it could be spent on securing the services of a certain Miguel Angel Ponce, because sadly ‘Here’s Johnny” Bornstein and Spector aren’t cutting it.

    Not to be self-promoting…. but could this post possibly create a new category in the Shin Guardian Comment Hall of Fame……… “Comments that are so bad, they’re good” :)

    Reply

  17. Posted by Soccernst on 2010/11/18 at 9:39 AM

    Hats off to MLS for providing a home for young US talent. An unsaid story line after a solid performance from some of it rising youngsters. There is no better place for Agudelo to be than NYRB along side henry. excited about the future of both the Nats and MLS

    Reply

    • Posted by Russ on 2010/11/18 at 9:54 AM

      The MLS academy system is going to start paying massive dividens sooner than we think.

      Reply

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